Tuesday 29 November 2011
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: Summary (29/11/2011): At least 11 martyrs have fallen today across Syria. Protests today were dedicated to the brave doctors and nurses who are risking their lives by treating the wounded protesters through the secret shift hospitals hidden inside houses. The military is continuing its assaults in Homs and in Damascus countryside whilst 3 security members were killed in an attack by the FSA in northern Syria. See the map for more info. Syria – Tuesday 29/11/2011
Turkish foreign minister : “If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing towards the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as a buffer zone,” , “We don’t want that to happen but we must consider and work on that scenario.”
Update (29/11/2011) : 7 martyrs have fallen today, Essal al Ward and Rankuss are still under heavy shelling, Turkish FM said his country is not in a favour of military intervention in Syria though Turkey is ready for all options. Students has been protesting before, during and after their school, most of the times the director of the school is the one who calls the security service, This video shows the director of a school in Daraa trying to catch a student who was protesting in order to hand him to the security forces.
English Speakers to Help The Syrian Revolution: It’s very noticeable and scarey how firing doesn’t scatter the protests and mourners easily these days….They look up to assess the seriousness of the attack, and then carry on…..God bless and protect them all…..Huge support for laying the Martyr to rest
Security Forces Fire on Mourners of Martyr Gaith ArRawi, Deir Ezzor, 28-Nov-11
British Syrians & Friends in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution: Well done London! A video of the flash mob demo on Sunday in Trafalgar square.
[local time] 19:29 Syrian security forces entered the city of Halfaya, in Homs, amid heaving gunfire, Al-Jazeera television reported.
19:13 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 18 people among them 11 people killed in Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Al-Jazeera television.
17:54 Turkey will soon announce a set of sanctions against the Syrian regime while opposing any military option but staying ready for any scenario, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday.
17:43 Syrian security forces killed 11 people on Tuesday, activists told Al-Arabiya television.
16:38 German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday welcomed Arab League sanctions against Syria, saying she was pleased the pan-Arab bloc and the EU were pulling in the same direction.
16:09 The Saudi Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged its citizens to leave Syria and not to travel to the Arab nation that has been hit by months of deadly anti-regime protests.
15:54 Violence flared again in Syria where three more civilians were killed on Tuesday, one of them in a raid launched after suspected mutinous soldiers shot dead three members of the security forces, a rights group said.
15:18 Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Hassan Fadlallah commented on the recent sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime saying that punitive measures do not concern Lebanon.
14:46 Syria’s foreign minister will attend an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation aimed at finding ways to end the bloodshed in his country, an OIC official said Tuesday.
14:42 Seven Lebanese men on Tuesday denounced Syria’s authorities for what they said was false usage of footage filmed in 2008 to prove “terrorist” involvement in unrest rocking Syria.
13:50 Iraq’s close trade ties with Syria, from which it imports significant amounts of foodstuffs, pushed the Iraqi government to abstain from an Arab League vote imposing sanctions on Syria, officials said.
13:35 Russia’s only aircraft carrier and its most modern anti-submarine destroyer will lead a powerful flotilla on a rare port call to Syria before the end of the year, a military source said on Tuesday.
11:29 Turkey may consider setting up a buffer zone on its border in coordination with the international community in the event of a massive exodus of refugees from Syria, its foreign minister said on Tuesday.
10:31 Russia on Tuesday urged an end to “ultimatums” against its Middle East ally Syria after the approval of Arab League sanctions and a call from Washington and the EU for an immediate end to violence.
10:04 Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in an interview published on Tuesday that “Lebanon is not bound to commit to the Arab League’s sanctions against Syria.”
9:44 Turkey plans to bypass Syria for regional trade if conditions in the neighboring country deteriorate, the country’s transport minister said on Tuesday, adding that Turkey could open new border crossings with Iraq.
7:45 The Arab League has sent a clear signal that Syria’s neighbors do not tolerate the deadly crackdown on dissent by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, US officials said Monday.
7:44 Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Monday called for decisive UN Security Council action on Syria’s deadly crackdown against protests.
7:42 The United States and Germany on Monday led Western calls for the divided UN Security Council to act on Syria’s deadly assault against protests after UN investigators said crimes against humanity had been committed.
The top United Nations human rights forum is expected to condemn Syria for crimes against humanity at an emergency session on Friday, European and Arab diplomats said.
The move is also designed to put pressure on China and Russia to take a stronger stand against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, they said.
More than 20 member states back the U.N. Human Rights Council holding a special session, which is to be announced on Wednesday, they added.
The 47-member forum’s third session on Syria in eight months is being convened days after a U.N. commission of inquiry said Syrian security forces had committed murder, torture and rape during their crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
“This is very much being led by the Arab group. Some Arab ambassadors are at least as concerned as the European Union and United States and possibly more,” Britain’s ambassador Peter Gooderham told Reuters.
“There is no question that the resolution will be very hard-hitting at the Council’s session on Friday,” he said. “It is all intended to build up the maximum pressure that the Human Rights Council can apply.”
An Arab diplomat in Geneva, who declined to be identified, told Reuters: “Arab support is there, the three Gulf Cooperation Council countries who are Council members — Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – and Jordan. I’m sure Libya will be with us too.
“It is meant to be a tool for later action in New York,” he said, referring to the General Assembly and Security Council.
On Sunday, the Arab League imposed sanctions on Damascus over its crackdown, in which more than 3,500 people have been killed since March, including 256 children, according to the United Nations. The EU weighed in one day later, further tightening the financial screws on Damascus.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday Turkey would announce its sanctions soon.
An EU draft resolution to be presented to the U.N. rights forum for adoption, obtained by Reuters, strongly condemns “continued widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities”.
These included executions, killing and persecution of protesters, activists and journalists, as well as arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and torture.
“The resolution will certainly be adopted, no question, it has wide support,” the Arab diplomat said.
The draft text recommends that the General Assembly consider the commission of inquiry’s report and refer the report to the Security Council “for its consideration and appropriate action”.
The Security Council has the power to refer a country to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“This is probably the most controversial element in the resolution,” Gooderham said.
Russia and China, which both have oil concessions in Syria, teamed up last month to veto a Western-backed Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government for violence.
The British envoy, asked about chances of winning support from China and Russia for the resolution, said: “Naturally we hope they will support this and not call a vote on the resolution as they did in August where they found themselves in a very small minority of only four states,” he said.
“We hope that they will look at the merits. The seriousness of the evidence is incontrovertible,” he said.
The U.N. commission of inquiry, which interviewed 223 victims and witnesses including defectors from the Syrian army, catalogued executions, torture, brutal rapes and abductions.
“They didn’t even have access to Syria. Imagine what is happening really inside the country,” the Arab diplomat said.
“It is close to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, it is not any different in terms of human rights,” he said.
Rebel forces ambushed an army vehicle in northern Syria on Tuesday, killing three soldiers and capturing two others, Syrian human rights observers said.
Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey said it feared there could be an exodus of Syrians if the violence got worse, and that border states might have to create a buffer zone. Russia in contrast warned major powers against interference.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faces mounting economic sanctions over what a U.N. report said on Monday was systematic murder, torture and rape ordered from the top.
But he shows no sign of buckling under pressure to end his crackdown on protesters or in the face of armed rebellion by military deserters.
“The security forces vehicle was targeted while driving in the city of Saraqeb in Idlib province by a group of suspected army defectors,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
Government forces later killed a civilian and wounded three others in raids in Saraqeb, it said. In a district of Homs city, an 8-year-old girl was shot dead at a checkpoint.
Two civilians died of their wounds in the area of Rinkous outside Damascus on Tuesday and a 33-year-old man was killed by sniper fire as he tried to escape arrest, it said.
The Observatory said families in the area had been unable to bury seven people killed there since Sunday.
NOT LIKE LIBYA
The United Nations report on Monday accused Syria of crimes against humanity in the 8-month-old repression of a revolt in which the UN says at least 3,500 have been killed.
The United States, the European Union and the Arab League have stacked up a range of economic sanctions against Damascus while ruling out military intervention.
Syria, diplomats say, is not like Libya, where NATO air power paved the way for a successful revolution against the Gaddafi dictatorship. It is more ethnically diverse and has far more people. Assad still has strategic allies and strong support at home and the rebels hold no territory.
Turkey said it must prepare for “any scenario.”
“If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing toward the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as a buffer zone,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a television interview.
“We don’t want that to happen but we must consider and work on that scenario,” he said.
France has raised the idea of a secured humanitarian corridor, a step which would appear to imply some use of armed forces for security and logistics, if camps were set up on Syria’s border to accommodate masses of refugees.
“If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario. We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary,” Davutoglu said. “The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people.”
MOSCOW OPPOSES EMBARGO
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said other states should “stop issuing ultimatums” to Assad and drop talk of an arms embargo which he said would favor the rebels.
“We know how that worked in Libya when the arms embargo only applied to the Libyan army, the opposition received weapons, and countries like France and Qatar publicly spoke about it without shame,” Lavrov said.
“For the most part, armed groups are provoking the authorities. To expect the authorities to close their eyes to this is not right,” said Moscow’s veteran top diplomat.
Syria is a major weapons client of Moscow as well as a longtime strategic ally dating back to Soviet times. It also has close ties with Iran.
The Arab League imposed financial sanctions on Syria on Sunday and the EU weighed in on Monday, further tightening the financial screws on Damascus for what Brussels said was its “brutality and unwillingness to change course.”
Assad’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem hit back, lambasting the Arab League for “a declaration of economic war” that he said had closed the door to resolving the crisis.
“Sanctions are a two-way street,” Moualem told a televised news conference. “I am not warning here, but we will defend the interests of our people.”
The sanctions stop short of a full trade embargo.
But Turkey said it was preparing to cut out Syria as a transit route for Middle East trade if the situation deteriorates, and create a detour around the large Arab country.
“We plan to conduct transit shipments through new border gates in Iraq if the conditions in Syria worsen,” Transport Minister Binali Yildirim was quoted as saying.
Turkey has an 800-km (500-mile) border with Syria. It has said it will selectively impose sanctions announced by the Arab League to avoid harming the Syrian people.
Russia has said Syria should not be issued with any more ultimatums, a day after the West called for more action against President Bashar al-Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said further attempts should be made to engage Damascus in political dialogue.
Meanwhile, Turkey has said it is considering imposing a buffer zone along its border to protect Syrians.
On Monday, a UN panel said Syrian forces were committing “crimes against humanity” in their crackdown.
The study by an independent panel, appointed by the Human Rights Council, said civilians – including children – had been murdered, tortured and sexually assaulted during the uprising against Mr Assad.
“Right now, the most important thing is to stop acting by means of ultimatums and try to move toward political dialogue,” Mr Lavrov said.
Speaking in Moscow, he also criticised a possible arms embargo against Syria, suggesting it could prevent the government from gaining weapons but not its opponents.Turkey has suggested the creation of a buffer zone to protect Syrian refugees
“We know how that worked in Libya when the arms embargo only applied to the Libyan army, the opposition received weapons,” Mr Lavrov told reporters.
Mr Lavrov said it was unfair to expect the Syrian government not to respond to the unrest. “For the most part, armed groups are provoking the authorities,” he said.
Russia has resisted attempts by the US and Europe to draft a UN Security Council resolution condemning Mr Assad’s crackdown. Syria is a significant purchaser of Russian arms.
State-run Russia Today reported on Monday that Moscow had deployed warships to its base on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, in what appears to be a further show of support for the Assad government.
A navy spokesman however denied the move was connected to the crisis in Syria, Izvestia newspaper reports.Continue reading the main story
Human Rights Council findings
- Security forces guilty of systematic human rights violations
- Soldiers were ordered to “shoot to kill” unarmed demonstrators
- Pattern of summary executions, arbitrary arrests, and enforced disappearances
- Extensive practice of torture indicate state-sanctioned policy
- Men and boys sexually abused at military facilities
- At least two children killed as a result of torture by security forces
Mr Lavrov’s comments come as pressure on the Syrian government mounts, with Turkey’s foreign minister saying it was looking to create a buffer zone along its border with Syria, with international support.
In a TV interview, Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey had no plans for a military intervention in Syria but that it was ready for any scenario.
“We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people,” he said.
France has suggested that Turkey should join a European Union foreign ministers’ conference on the crisis in Syria later this week.
A UN Human Rights report released on Monday accused Syria of systematic human rights violations, including killing at least 253 children.
Denied entry to Syria itself, the UN investigators interviewed more than 200 victims, eyewitnesses, and army defectors.
The claims cannot be independently verified as most foreign media are banned from entering Syria.
Turkey raised the prospect of a buffer zone inside Syria put in place by its own troops and those of other countries for the first time, as international tensions over the fighting inside the country worsened.
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, gave voice to contingency plans long thought to be under discussion in Ankara, but went further in adding that international action might be required.
“If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario,” he said in an interview on local television. “We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people.
“If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing towards the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as a buffer zone. We don’t want that to happen but we must consider and work on that scenario.”
Syria and its few remaining allies have issued aggressive warnings against foreign involvement in its uprising, which is now tipping into open civil war in some areas.
Russia, which has blocked United Nations sanctions and repeatedly accused western governments of making the situation worse, announced it was moving its only aircraft carrier group to the port of Tartus in northern Syria.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, which will be accompanied by an anti-submarine destroyer and a fleet of smaller ships along with fighter jets and anti-ship helicopters, would be bringing forward a port visit intended for “training” from next spring, Russian media said.
Both Russian and Syrian officials denied there was any connection to current unrest. But Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, issued an angry response to a joint statement by the US and EU on Monday demanding the Syrian government end violence against protesters.
“Right now, the most important thing is to stop acting by means of ultimatums and try to move toward political dialogue,” Mr Lavrov said. He rejected calls for Russia to stop selling arms to Syria saying talk of an embargo was “disingenuous”.
The Syrian crisis has put new energy into old allegiances in what had been shifting diplomatic territory in the region. Syria and Russia are old allies, but Syria, already close to Iran, had been moving closer to Turkey too until earlier this year.
But Turkey, a key Nato member, moved squarely against first Libya and then a second state in the vanguard of anti-Western rhetoric in the region, Syria.
It remains unclear what effect this will have in military terms – most western countries are desperate to avoid further intervention in the region. But Turkey and its western allies imposed a buffer zone for the Kurds in northern Iraq in the early nineties, as part of a series of defensive measures and embargoes that ultimately led to the 2003 invasion.
There is no sign of a let-up either inside Syria itself, the day after a damning United Nations report was published accusing the regime of President Bashir al-Assad of widespread abuses, including the torture and murder of children.
Three soldiers were killed and two more captured by insurgents in the north of the country, while an eight-year-old girl shot dead at a checkpoint near the city of Homs was among several people killed by the military.